Eyes wide with fear

Dear President Trump,

Much has already been said about your strange, even-for-you, speech about Iran yesterday. I’d seen some of the assessments noting how stilted and incoherent you were and heard about how widely dilated your pupils were. I even looked up which drugs of abuse tend to dilate mammalian pupils (cocaine, amphetamine, meth, and various hallucinogens) thinking that your near absent irises and your weird sniffing, along with your strange delivery might all be drug-related. This is definitely a possibility and one that many have wondered about you for years now, not just yesterday.

However, I finally made myself sit and watch an extended clip from the speech and I think there is a competing hypothesis to the drug one and to the one that says you are simply a lame-ass and can’t deliver a real speech (of course, two or all three could be true at once).

My current primary hypothesis is that you were not just a bit speech-anxious, but that you were (are?) scared nearly out of your wits. You looked and sounded completely freaked out. You couldn’t even pretend to make “eye contact” with the head-on camera, instead reading from the teleprompter on your left and then darting your eyes over to the far right when it was time to utter the last two words of each sentence, which I’m assuming was all you could remember without your crutch. This is neither the behavior of someone who is telling the truth nor is it the behavior of someone who is feeling settled and calm. Then there was the awful labored breathing, like you were about to pass out, like you were so afraid that you couldn’t catch your breath. Extremely dilated pupils constitute another tell when someone is having a strong fear response. I hope you went to the bathroom before you gave the speech; otherwise, those CNS sympathetic processes likely compounded your misery.

If it’s true that your disturbing performance yesterday was driven by fear, what might have prompted that fear? Were you threading an exceedingly tiny needle surrounded by political (financial? legal?) landmines? If so, did they have to do with Vladimir? MbS? MbZ? Who were you afraid of pissing off? Who were you afraid would betray you if you pissed them off? Were you trying to find some way to mollify the American people while still somehow conveying to your partners in crime that you’re still on the program? The text of the speech itself was so disjointed and herky-jerky that it had the feel of someone who couldn’t figure out who he was really talking to.

It may not do any good whatsoever to find out eventually what the hell was (is) really going on with all this and who you were and were not trying to appease, but I sure hope we do, if for no other reason than we need to have clear examples of X and Y behaviors so we might get better at spotting them in the future. Ok, I know – this is stupid. Your behaviors are abundantly clear and as long as your props are intent on shielding you, it just doesn’t matter what you do.

Last thing for tonight – I’m seeing that Western experts have surmised that Iran likely accidentally shot down the Ukrainian plane, which is horrible, but if it was an accident it’s probably better than if it was done intentionally by anyone. I sure as hell hope this isn’t just a convenient story to appease everyone (but the Iranians) because I would not put it past you all to pull something like that.

May we be safe and may our actions be safe.
May we be willing to keep calling out bad, unsafe actors.
May we see that our health is improved when we aren’t accruing bad karma.
May we hold space for peace.

Tracy Simpson

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